Tag Archives: won

Review of Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual, by Jocko Willink

I won a copy of Jocko Willink‘s Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual through Goodreads.


Jocko Willink’s methods for success were born in the SEAL Teams, where he spent most of his adult life, enlisting after high school and rising through the ranks to become the commander of the most highly decorated special operations unit of the war in Iraq. In Discipline Equals Freedom, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Extreme Ownership describes how he lives that mantra: the mental and physical disciplines he imposes on himself in order to achieve freedom in all aspects of life. Many books offer advice on how to overcome obstacles and reach your goals—but that advice often misses the most critical ingredient: discipline. Without discipline, there will be no real progress. Discipline Equals Freedom covers it all, including strategies and tactics for conquering weakness, procrastination, and fear, and specific physical training presented in workouts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes, and even the best sleep habits and food intake recommended to optimize performance.

Within these pages discover the keys to becoming stronger, smarter, faster, and healthier. There is only one way to achieve true freedom: The Way of Discipline. Read this book and find The Way.

It’s not that I think Willing doesn’t have any good points in this book, it’s just that I really, REALLY can’t relate to how he presents any of them. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is a book written for men. And I don’t just mean because of it’s yanged out, gung-ho tone (there are women who go for this sort of thing), but because it talks about the benefit of exercise and such as bulking muscle and increasing testosterone, among other things (not generally things women aim for). I’ll go farther and say it’s written for Willink’s fellow soldiers. There’s a section on gun and another on choosing a martial art. Neither of which seem relevant to a standard get fit self-help book, but are right up the alley of aggressive male types.

The thing that I found so very alienating about this book though was the framing of everything as a battle. After 20 years as a navy seal, I can understand how Willing came to be this way, but I just find the very idea pointlessly exhausting, wrong, and unnecessary. Many of his points could as easily have been said in less adversarial terms and be just as true. But that’s not the sort of book this is. It’s designed for war-minded men who like the idea of crushing their enemy, even if that enemy is self-doubt, or laziness, or lack of motivation. I’m just really not one of those people.

Further evidence (to me) that the book is intended for those who might qualify as meatheads is the way it’s formatted with white text on a black background, with indents and right justifications, and lots and lots of empty space per page. The whole thing reads more like mini-motivational speeches than anything else. As it it’s intended to sit on the coffee table and be opened to a random page for the quick inspirational pick-me-up. I read the whole thing in less than an hour, despite being almost 200 pages long.

All in all, I can’t say if this is good or bad, only that it really isn’t for me. I found the whole thing ridiculous, even if Willink’s point that anything you want to do you just have to do is a good one.

Review of Siberian Shadows, by I.W. Zilke

I won a copy of I. W. Zilke‘s Siberian Shadows through Goodreads.

A collection of 3 short stories inspired by true events in Siberia during the last century.

These stories, directly taken from I. W. Zilke’s immediate family history, present a special world in a gripping and unforgettable manner. With an unflinching insight into the dark depths of the human soul, the author portrays the entire palette of human suffering through an inverted mirror: from cannibalism as an act of courage (in Tabula Rasa) to a rapist with an honourable heart (in Emma), and a stuttering child who overcomes his predicament for the first time in an act of violence (in Feathers). And while all of the stories are set in Siberia, they encompass the full human experience and due to Zilke’s eye for detail, like a surgeon’s knife, they can hit closer to home than expected.

The 3 stories are brought to life by powerful artistic visions. All drawn by hand, the 9 illustrations complete the collection and create a unique literary treasure.

This is a collection of 3 very short stories from the author’s family’s history and it’s an interesting read. In the book’s synopsis, there is a sentence that reads, ” With an unflinching insight into the dark depths of the human soul, the author portrays the entire palette of human suffering through an inverted mirror…” And that’s what the stories actually manage to do in very few pages. They ask you to consider cannibalism as an act of courage and sacrifice. It presents a rapist as being responsible and therefore honorable. It allows a child cursing an adult out as a success and validation. These are obviously perversions of reality, but for 5 or 10 pages Zilkes makes you wonder if maybe, just maybe…

Review of Neutral Space, by Rebecca Tran

I won a copy of Rebecca Tran‘s Neutral Space through Goodreads. This was especially exciting for me because she turns out to be a local author and I have been trying to read more books by authors who live in my region.

Description from Goodreads:
Lieutenant Jackson Peterson thought he knew who the enemy was. A bitter war with the Kelsairans made it abundantly clear. When Jackson saves a Kelsairan woman from a wrecked ship, the line is suddenly blurred. The enemy isn’t what the government said they were and he can no longer blindly follow orders. A shocking discovery leads Jackson down a sinister path of intrigue that could change the fate of two races. But, both the Kelsairan and the Human governments will kill him to keep their secrets. Jackson will risk everything to stop them. Will it be enough? Or will he die in the process?

This wasn’t bad, just simple. Simple in it’s writing and narration style and simple in it’s plotting. By this I mean the writing is readable, but not elaborate (and it REALLY needs another editing pass, especially to look a punctuation), the narration is a straight forward first person, past tense monologue and the plotting is….well, here’s where it all falls apart really. It’s simple and not deeply thought out.

For example, in all the universe the two characters get put in the same single prison. The male lead is already there and anticipates the female lead will be placed there when he hears she’s to be jailed. (Is there only one such prison in all the universe?) There was no mention of other women (except for a single staff nurse), so I don’t know if this was a co-ed prison. But when she arrived, she seemed able to wander at will and sleep wherever she wanted. She was never actually locked up at any point. That doesn’t seem very prison-like to me, but it sure was convenient for the plot.

Most of the book is a romance in space, which I don’t mind. I like those. But the plot is basically them running around talking to people that they already knew and somehow, miraculously uncovering, in some small amount of time, a secret that had gone undiscovered for 200 years. One of the clues they find is a copy of the original treaty, the breach of which started the war. You guys, if a war starts because someone is said to have broken a treaty, I really think someone would have thought to look at the darned thing before 200 years passed.

That war is basically just a background prop. You never feel the tension of it. The characters met ON VACATION. Yes, I know it’s the space-fairing equivalent of shore leave. But it’s hard to be concerned about a war when the main character trots off to go fishing and throughout the whole book they go wherever they want, including to their families, and no one ever stops them, there is never a battle, or a front, or any evidence of war.

While I appreciate that female lead was meant to be the more elite soldier, she spent the whole book being girly—changing clothes, putting on perfume, angsting about her virginity, and eventually marrying and having babies. She could have been a baker or a politician and been far more believable. Her character was too shallow and simple to actually carry what it was supposed to.

Lastly, there’s the humans and kelsairans, who were less different from one another than the Americans are from the Chinese. They shared the same mores and values. Their languages must not have even been that different, because the characters learned to speak alien languages in months, in one case without anyone to even teach him. He picked it up from listening to the guards talk to one another. So again, the cultures and universe are simple and not as diverse as they need to be. 

I know I sound like I’ve trashed this book. I was admittedly disappointed to find it as flat as it is. But it is entertaining in it’s own ways, has a lovely theme, and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. I’d even be willing to read another of Tran’s books.